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The attitude towards a hospital initiated social support website.

Hulskers, L. (2012) The attitude towards a hospital initiated social support website.

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Abstract:This exploratory research investigates the attitude towards a social media/online social support system for patients called Patient-In. It is initiated by the MST, a hospital in the Netherlands. This system, which will be a part of the MST website, gives patients the opportunity to create a personal profile, select medical topics of interest and start or participate in discussions within these topics. According to theory self-help and self-management of a disease or ailment is becoming more and more important in the current healthcare market. Information sharing and social support exchanged between patients can help people becoming more responsible for their own health. By researching the attitude towards Patient-In this research tries to find if people are positive or negative about such a system, how this attitude is formed and what can be done to improve it. In this research four focus groups with patients, one focus group with nurses and one focus group with the MST PR department were conducted. The results show point that form several points that form a positive attitude towards the system such as the ability to share experiences, information and tips. However, the overall attitude towards Patient-In was negative. This was due to concerns mentioned such as not achieving a critical mass of users, the posting of negative and scary stories, abundance of social support systems, lack of quality of the information shared and privacy concerns. In addition, respondents mentioned point for improving the system and thus the attitude towards it such as doctors participation and close monitoring. The concerns mentioned in the current research are mostly expectation about the use and behavior of future participants of the system. Some research mentions these concerns rarely occur. The current research shows that these concerns may withhold patients from using systems like Patient-In even though the beneficial effects of social support are recognized. Future research might find ways to dissolve these concerns so that more patients will hopefully join online social support group systems and online patient-to-patient communication systems. The MST is advised to lower the amount of personal information that needs to be disclosed by patients to create a profile. A second advice would be to avoid anonymous participation. Another suggestion for the MST would be to investigate the option to let healthcare professionals participate on Patient-In. A final suggestion is a follow up research during the pilot or initiation phase of Patient-In to research the actual use of the system.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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